Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Eating for Pregnancy

Clockwise from top left: organic tamari with wasabi, pickled ginger, spinach, almond-miso spread, oyster mushrooms, kimchi, carrots, ume plum, and cucumber, ready to be wrapped in sheets of nori

So here's the post where I confess my loyalty to raw foods, and apologize to anyone who wants to see only baked goods and seitan dishes. It's true. Before I ever protested fur or groaned at the protein question, I was a raw foodist.

Yes, I detoxed. I had a perpetually full dehydrator. I attended events known as rawlucks.

My food philosophy is to eat what makes you feel really alive, as long as it's vegan. For me, that's a diet composed primarily of fresh fruits, vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, with bits of cooked stuff, too. I eat whatever I want to eat, which usually means green smoothies, salads, and lots of fruit. Food should nourish the whole person, so there's room for all of it: cupcakes and chia puddings, dosas and raw crackers, piping hot stews and raw gazpachos. But these days, I've leaned very heavily toward eating fresh, uncooked foods. And during pregnancy, I'm committed to providing the best, least-processed nutrition for this little one.

So if you're rolling your eyes right now, give me a moment, and let me convince you to stick around for the next five months. Because even if you have no interest in raw food, good food is universal. I'll always feature plenty of that, whether it's homemade raw vegan cheese, or the smoothest, most decadent gelato (both of which I'll be posting this week!).

Here's what I've been eating.

Tropical Fruit Consomme, from Cook, Eat, Thrive

Fresh, watery fruits. It's wonderful to wake up to a whole papaya spritzed with lime, or to slice into a giant watermelon on warm afternoons. I get lots of nutrition from whole fruits, and when I'm not filling up on denser bananas or dates, I'm eating plenty of hydrating mangoes, grapes, peaches, and melons.

I've also wanted lots of fermented foods lately, and I find myself thinking about their sour tang throughout the day. My favorites are kimchi (look for brands that don't contain bonito or shrimp paste), coconut water kefir, and kombucha. I recently tried some raw kimchi from Rejuvenative Foods (above), which is a splurge at around $10 per jar. It's different from traditional kimchi, using regular cabbage instead of Napa or bok choy, but its gingery bite is certainly worth trying. Considering the amount of fermented foods I eat, I'm going to invest in a fermenting crock pot, so I can make fresh kimchi, sauerkraut, and fermented vegetables at home.
Caution should be exercised with these foods during pregnancy, but if you've been consuming them regularly prior to conception (I have), there shouldn't be any ill side effects.

As in this recent post, I've been enjoying plenty of sea vegetables. Nori is one of my favorites, and a perfect crunchy snack when I want something salty. I also use it to wrap a variety of fillings, burrito or hand roll style. I include wakame in my miso soup, and often sprinkle dulse over a platter of crisp vegetables. Seaweeds are rich in minerals and trace elements, and assist in balancing digestive and endocrine systems. They also prevent tissue damage caused by toxins and radiation by reducing absorption, so consider increasing your intake if you're exposed to x-rays, chemotherapy, or heavy metals.

I love cucumbers, and try to eat at least one every day. These tasty non-sweet fruits are the ideal pregnancy food, providing excellent hydration and building skin and connective tissues with their high silica content. They're best, I think, soaked liberally in fresh lemon juice and sea salt (although I suspect the idea makes most people pucker and cringe!).

This salad combines some of my favorites: cucumbers and sea vegetables.

Sea Cucumber Salad, with red peppers and carrots added, topped with black sesame

Sea Cucumber Salad
4 servings
Seaweed and crisp cucumber combine in this clean, bracing salad. Serve small quantities as a starter for an Asian meal, or serve it over carrot or zucchini noodles with an almond butter sauce.

2 cucumbers, peeled, halved, and seeds removed
1 tablespoon Arame
¼ medium red onion
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
½ teaspoon sesame oil (not toasted)
½ teaspoon sea salt

Soak seaweed in fresh water for 5 minutes to hydrate. Drain, and remove to a medium bowl.

Slice cucumbers into ¼” half-moons, and add to bowl. Slice red onion into half-moons, as thin as possible, and add to bowl. Sprinkle with vinegar, oil, and sea salt, toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Enormous fresh salads. When I have a salad, I really have a salad. I use a huge bowl, and start with 8-10 cups of greens. Then I toss with a bit of dressing, and allow it to wilt slightly while cutting up other additions. Salads are best served crisp, but when you're aiming for large amounts (I try to get 1/2-1 pound of greens every day), letting the dressing soften everything makes it easier to eat lots. This one is spinach, hazelnuts, pears, and golden raisins, tossed in Agave Mustard Poppyseed Dressing (which is Maple Mustard Poppyseed Dressing here, made so by substituting flavorful grade B maple syrup for the usual agave).

Just writing about salads makes me want another one. Off to find some good leafy greens...


Carissa said...

Oh, the Tropical Fruit Consomme looks wonderful. What is the liquid ingredient in there? I also love kim-chi!

fiftytwonamesblog said...

Thanks Joy for another great post!
If you're ever lacking for post ideas, it would be great if you did a sea-vegetable 101 post. I really want to incorporate sea-veggies in my diet, but I don't know what to buy or basic preparation. I also get bewildered in Asian Markets since things aren't in English and I'm scared I'm buying some fish thing. :) Can't wait for your cookbook!

Morgan-- said...

The cucumber salad looks so beautiful and delicious!

Anonymous said...

These food are surely delicious and healthy perfect for pregnant women, not only good for them but for the baby!

Joy said...

Carissa, it's just strained lime juice, agave nectar, and water. Sometimes I also add a few drops of fresh ginger juice, or a dash of rum. Viva kimchi!

fiftytwonames, that's a fantastic idea--a post on sea vegetables would be great. They're one of those things that seems intimidating, but are really simple, and I'd love to help demystify that.

Carrie said...

That cucumber salad sounds delicious! I love fresh watery fruits too, especially in summer. :)